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Despite league losses, men's lax is still fighting

By Anna Dolinsky

With one of the toughest schedules in the country, keeping a focused and positive attitude has been a challenge for the men's lacrosse team.

M. Lacrosse
Record: 5-4, 1-3 Ivy
Recent Results: Beat Boston College 15-6 Coming Up: Sat., Apr. 15 at Albany, 1 p.m. Wed., Apr. 19 at Dartmouth, 3 p.m.

In the past two weeks, the team has given up crucial league losses to undefeated Cornell, No. 3 Princeton, and No. 5 Brown. Perennially strong Dartmouth and Harvard await next week. Execution and precision have suffered as a result: "We're playing hard, but we're not playing smart," Coach Mark Waldvogel summarized. "The Ivy League is one of the strongest in the country, and the fact that we're not doing as well as we should is not because we're losing. The teams we play are great—those games were not ours. But our fundamentals of throwing and catching are not as good as they should be. Our execution is off," he said.

The conventional wisdom is that this year's team is too young to succeed. Waldvogel's team is indeed very young. There are only three returning seniors, and less than half of the team has varsity experience. But the team has been trying hard to overcome. "I think that though we are a young team, we have done quite well for ourselves," freshman defender Noah Glass, CC '03, said. "Our losses may reflect upon our inexperience, but we are the type of team that stays disappointed for no more than an hour after a loss. After that, we become quite motivated and prepare for our next chance to prove ourselves."

Furthermore, despite some "rookie mistakes," Waldvogel claims there has been no lack of leadership thus far. "Our seniors are great; Chris McIntyre [SY '00,] on offense and Don Gerne [BR '00] on defense are really leading by example and stepping up the play."

Where to go from here? Waldvogel has been experimenting with different lineups, switching starting goalies Adam Oppenheimer, SM '02, and Eric Wenzel, JE '03. "Eric has been playing well, and I told him a few weeks before the Boston College game that I wanted him to start," Waldvogel said. "It can be a hard switch for some teams, but I have confidence in both players."

Oppenheimer and Wenzel have very different playing styles. Oppenheimer is a right-hander and more of a stay-at-home positional player, experienced and sound in the goal. Left-handed Wenzel, who also plays football for Yale and is a late arrival to lacrosse, moves around the crease, and is more of a reactionary goalie.

"Whereas Adam is experienced and sound, Eric has been more raw and fearless; Adam is best at stopping shots from far out, Eric is best at reacting to shots in close and can use his size as an advantage," Glass said. "Both are among the best goalies in the nation. The inner-team competition between the two for the starting spot only makes them both play better."

As if the season has not been challenging enough, down the road the team has Cornell and Princeton coming to town, with a trip to Brown sandwiched in between. "It's all part of an athletic experience," Wald-vogel mused. "We just need to remain focused and get all the players on the same page."

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